Coach Tom Thibodeau does not have a traditional family of his own. As NBA lifer Jeff Van Gundy once stated on an ESPN telecast, “he’s married to the game.” Knowing that, you can imagine how uncomfortable Thibs would feel if management asked him to choose between his players.
Might as well be asking him which kid he would choose.
“As Bulls consider match on Omer Asik’s $25M Houston offer sheet, one major financial concern is rising future price of paying Taj Gibson. Management kept going through roster scenarios w/ Tom Thibodeau and asking: Who do you want to keep? His answer, basically: “All of them.”
Thibs was even last seen humming this little number to himself.
Okay, not really, but you get the picture.
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has totally complicated things for Chicago’s front office and coach Thibs.
One of the biggest reasons?
Gibson’s indispensability isn’t the best kept secret it once was.
Something about earning the NBA’s no. 1 seed in two consecutive seasons apparently attracts a certain kind of attention to that particular team’s players.
Now in Vegas, after choosing to play for the Bulls summer league, the former USC star watched his stock skyrocket after playing against the NBA’s finest as a member of USA Basketball’s Select Team this summer.
From Minnesota Timberwolves perennial All-Star Kevin Love:
“I think Taj is a great player that I’d love to have on my team, really a spark plug for the Bulls. Tough guy to play against, a guy who can score, a guy that’s a high-riser, always blocking shots. I have a lot of respect for his game.”
Barring an extension, Gibson will be a restricted free agent after next season, and it really comes as no surprise to anyone who follows Chicago that the game’s brightest stars are already making their pitch to recruit the 6-foot-9 lockdown defender.
“It’s crazy because I try not to think about it, but it’s hard when you’re playing against all these stars and they constantly say things to you like, ‘Yo, come to our team,’ and things like that. It’s real fun, but I try to just keep my mind clear. When the time happens, it’ll come. I’m patient, but I understand what this league is about, so I just focus on getting better and helping my team win games,” Gibson told CSN’s Aggrey Smith.
Now that’s all really great for Taj, but it’s also just another factor putting the screws to Gar Forman, John Paxson and Jerry Reinsdorf up in the executive suite.
It’s the combination of the “poison pill” third season in the Asik deal reportedly worth up $14.9 million, and Carlos Boozer’s ball-and-chain contract that are really holding things up. Just a side note: Boozer better be somewhere with Thibs working his ass off improving his quickness and learning better defensive positioning at one point this summer. The majority of the criticism he’s received has been totally warranted…(Counting to 10 to cool down.)
Alright, moving right along.
With his value rising, it is likely that Taj’s his agent will want to test the free agent market before signing an extension. If they haven’t already, the Bulls front office should see if they can get something done before the market drives Gibson out of Chicago’s price range. May not work but it’s worth having a meeting for.
Having said all that, defense is an extremely valuable asset, and an extremely difficult tangible to measure. You can look at the stat sheet, see 20 ppg and say “That guy gets you 20 points a night.” Very measurable.
Defense is another story.
There are blocked shots and steals but it’s harder to measure a shot altered a ball deflected or pure defensive instincts. As it stands right now, Asik, 26 and Gibson, 27, are two of the best defenders in the game, bar none.
That’s why letting either of them walk would really hurt.
That said, the tax-averse Reinsdorf may decide that due to cap restrictions, thee team must choose one or the other.
Gibson, who in addition to his defensive prowess is much more skilled offensively would likely be the last man standing if the organization is forced to make a choice.
If you ask Thibs, both players are indispensable to what Chicago does. Tough to disagree with that.
Assuming everyone’s future health, the roster as currently constructed can win a championship.
Subtract Asik or Gibson without a viable replacement and that’s no longer the case.
Adam Jun covers the Chicago Bulls for Skyword, Inc. a search-driven media website.
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